Since its international debut in 2008, Philippine motorcycle enthusiasts have been clamoring for the local release of the Yamaha YZF-R15. While Yamaha Motor Philippines (YMPH) took its time in determining whether there was sufficient demand for the R15, those who couldn’t wait had to come up with around P200,000 to get one from the gray market. Of course, after-sales service was another issue. Fortunately, Yamaha fans no longer have to suffer as YMPH officially launched the R15 during the recent staging of the first leg of Yamaha GP 2015 at SM Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Molded from the likeness of its bigger siblings the R1 and R6, the 2015 YZF-R15 did not disappoint as far as styling is concerned. From the aggressive fascia to the muscular tank and down to its streamlined tail end, there is no mistaking the R15’s racing heritage. This entry-level sport bike is propelled by a newly developed 149.8-cubic centimeter liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, single cylinder fuel-injected engine which produces 16.76 horsepower (12.5 kilowatts) at 8,500 revolutions per minute and 15 Newton-meters of torque at 7,500 rpm. That’s about two and a half Nm’s higher than its closest rival from a competing brand. It may not seem much on paper but in the modest 150-cc segment, such numbers are clearly manifested in the bike’s performance. It is also equipped with Yamaha’s all-aluminum Diasil cylinder for consistent performance and superior heat management.
The R15 might seem a bit docile, though, in the lower rev range. You still get enough grunt to safely keep up with traffic flow, but to move at a brisk pace you have to keep the revs up. I found it best to ride at lower rpms when filtering through urban congestion as it lessens the jerkiness often exhibited by sport bikes. Nevertheless, fatigue tends to set in if you consistently ride in heavy traffic – clip-on bars, rear-set pegs and all. Yet, once the road opens up, you’ll get to appreciate the aggressive riding posture.
Tipping the scales at 136 kilograms, the R15 is not a porker. Flicking it around the racetrack or through the city streets shouldn’t take much effort. Its strongest point, the Deltabox frame, is known for superior rigidity and balance that improves the machine’s handling and stability. The elegantly sculpted tank allowed my thighs to get a good grip, keeping my rear firmly planted on the saddle when riding at a spirited pace. A minimum ground clearance of 160 millimeters means you can lean it into corners with gusto and not worry about scraping something against the tarmac. You will be checking your pace via a digital speedometer and an analog tachometer will help you keep your rpms in check as you work through the buttery-smooth six-speed manual gearbox.
Traction is achieved by 90/80 (front) and 130/70 (rear) 17-inch rubbers, inspiring confidence when taking corners. Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes give firm and predictable stopping performance. Large dual headlights offer excellent illumination and visibility. The tiny pillion seat might only be comfortable on short rides but I personally like the fact that it can be detached using the ignition key to reveal an equally tiny under-seat compartment. At least you have somewhere to put your documents as opposed to squeezing them in inside the battery compartment.
At a retail price of P149,000, the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R15 is also P15,000 cheaper than the aforementioned rival. Surely, this much-awaited contender in the entry-level sport bike segment comes in a competitive package at a competitive price tag. It is, after all, born and bred in the competition atmosphere of the racetrack like its bigger siblings.